Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leadership Skills According to the Iron Lady

I originally intended to come back from the cinema 2 days ago and write a post reflecting on leadership skills in the church based on the awesome film; "Iron Lady". However my apartment was broken into and we had some very valuable things robbed including my iPad - so that distracted me somewhat! Then I woke up yesterday ready for a long day at work and was in the wrong place to read Mark Driscoll's rather unfortunate assessment of preaching and teaching in the United Kingdom.

I was thinking about his comments at work and wondering if I was overly harsh - but I think not. Many excuse Driscoll on "his age" or "social situation" - but I do think that leadership demands an element of responsibility. Unless Driscoll is extraordinarily naive or foolish - he will be aware of his fan-base across the world, so therefore must be aware (thanks to social networking) of the impact that a throw-away comment such as he allegedly made, would have.

My philosophy is still simple. As the many brilliant consultant surgeons and physicians in healthcare quite rightly take a large salary for their responsibility of the patients under their care - so "mega-church pastors" who take large salaries as well as book royalties (such as Driscoll, C J Mahaney or even John Piper) must also take responsibility for the impact of their words. In a sense - their words can damage even more than the doctors I encounter because the words of church leaders can damage spiritually as well as physically.

But onto "the Iron Lady".

I have always been a fan of Margaret Thatcher since I was young (as the photo taken by my friend Mark Heath demonstrates! Check out the postcard of Thatcher in my office in the bottom right hand corner) - so I was eager to see how this film depicted her. I greatly enjoyed the film but found it sobering too. Whatever one may feel about Thatcher's methods - you cannot deny her commitment and determination to see what she believed right brought about. Two scenes particularly brought me out in goosebumps;

1. The moment when Thatcher had to decide whether or not to take aggressive action against the Argentine battleship that was circling the Falkland Islands at the beginning of the war. Whether or not this was the way it happened - the film has it visually grippingly depicted! Thatcher is surrounded on one side by her military commanders who have told her what can be accomplished if she wishes. On the other - her civil servant advisers who continually advise "caution" and "negotiation". The viewer can see Thatcher's manicured nail tapping on the table and you hear the monumental lines; "Sink it". What is further gripping is that you see her tears and agony at the impact of her action - the British lives lost as a result.

2. The other was the moment when Michael Hestletine's betrayal (in Thatcher's view) became real to her, and she realised she would have to leave power. She said in the film; "But I am Prime Minister!". It made me realise that any leader - whether in church, or in state - are still human beings with real emotions, vulnerabilities and can be hurt. It was this moment that brought tears to my eyes for what I imagine C J Mahaney must be going through at this time. I have made no secret of my dislike of his methods and decisions - but I realised in the cinema, what utter hurt Mahaney must feel in his mind - at the way that certain leaders have "turned on him". Thatcher used to lead the United Kingdom. Mahaney used to lead SGM. Both human.


The one concerning thing I noticed was the very similar tactics used by both Thatcher and her politicians, and much of "celebrity" church leadership I see today. I'm not quite sure of the difference anymore - other than one leader leads a country, another leads a church (or group of churches). Forgive me for sounding dated - but I think what is missing from much of church leadership that is in the public eye is "the anointing". I still remain very committed to Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones' description of the "sacred unction" that is needed (and missing) from so much of preaching.

Don't get me wrong - I love social networking, Twitter, the opportunities that the internet brings to spread the word of the gospel far and wide. But I still am not persuaded that these "modern inventions" (as the Doctor would call them!) are necessary to bring about a revival of spiritual power that we so desperately need. I think it's great the way that Mark Driscoll in Seattle, Nathan Smith and Pete Bowley in Bristol (in my opinion one of the best churches in the UK using social networking - alongside CCK in Brighton) and others particularly have really jumped on board and are using Twitter and the internet to spread the word that church is available and where they are! But I do hope that Mark Driscoll (I know the Bristol leaders wouldn't) become dependent on his flashy back screen while he preaches to think that is essential to bring in the crowds.

This is why Terry Virgo's ministry (alongside others such as Rob Rufus) means so much to me. You can still sense the anointing on him when he preaches - and surely this is the example to seek to emulate. Not investing tithes in mediation fees or new technology for your church.

A quote from Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones to close;

“When the Holy Spirit comes in revival there is a great anointing, and it shows itself in many ways. You read of men who had believed the truth, and who were preaching faithfully and regularly, but who were ineffective and lacking in power. Suddenly they are filled with power. They speak with boldness and with power and with great authority. That is the anointing of the Spirit . . .

But this anointing is not confined to revival. I use that simply as an illustration. Thank God it is given at other times. Any man who has ever preached should be able to testify to this. There are times when, entirely outside his own control, he is given a special authority, special power, an unction which is unusual. And there are good reasons for its bestowal. There are circumstances which he himself is not always aware of, which he only discovers afterwards. Somebody may have come to the congregation who needed a particular message or word, and the preacher, without knowledge on his part, is guided to say something which is just appropriate to that particular state and condition. There is, therefore, this special enduement of power which is called ‘the anointing’. It is something that one should seek and covet, it is something for which one should be constantly praying . . .".

(HT: Adrian Warnock - emphases mine - David Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 20, Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh; Carlisle, PA, 1977, p.115)


Jony Gibson said...

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Future Leader

Diana Guess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andi Anderson said...

I truly like to reading your post. Thank you so much for taking the time to share such a nice information.
Good Leadership Skills

Ellis O'Neill said...

It's so sad that Margaret Thatcher had to go so soon. But the good thing is, she left a mark to millions of people across the globe. She's a true leader, indeed—and we learned a lot from her. :)